Prior Commentary on Blog Challenges

I’ve been friends with Yvette for at least five or six years and love chatting with her and admiring her photos. Her sense of humor and intelligent thoughtfulness augments the value of every photo she posts.

For Example

Morning Walker #1 (March 2020): The crack in the sidewalk is what grabbed my attention later when I looked at the photo. It is as if the man pressed his foot down and caused the crack. Or have I seen too many Super Hero movies (I don’t even watch any of those type of movies – haha  so who knows….). I found this photo to be interesting with the verticals (man’s body, tall building above his head, the other verticals right) and then the white t-shirt, Adidas socks, Nike sneakers, towel in hand – and then the row of open squares middle upper right. Old bridge new structure going up… hmmmmm  

See what I mean? Did you notice all that stuff? So I know you’re going to love her guest post.

Hi, my name is Yvette Prior and I have been blogging over at Priorhouse regularly since 2014. 

In today’s post, I wanted to share some thoughts about blog challenges. 

Marsha is currently running a series about blog challenges and I wanted to share a few thoughts because I have joined in with a lot of challenges over the years. 

Blog challenges refer to joining in with other bloggers to post about a theme or topic. There are many types of blog challenges.  Challenges can have daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly schedules. 

Blog challenges allow us to build connections – a niche social circle. 

The challenges that we join allow us to network and build rapport with others. Or they can – depending on how active we are and how others in the group respond to newcomers or to your unique contributions and style. One of my favorite challenges for building the “social circle” is the Lens-Artists’ weekly  photo challenge.  They have four main hosts, guest hosts, and then the many participants seem to be like-minded folks and it is a lot of fun. I also learn so much and it is nice to meet people from all over the world and with different backgrounds. 

Hosting requires effort and consistency. Yvette Prior

Lens-Artists’ Photo Challenge Hosts

Challenges Motivate Ideas and Creativity. 

Blog challenges motivate ideas and can help with creativity. Sometimes a blog challenge theme gives us a reason to snap that photo or write about a topic.  Sometimes I want to post after taking a break from blogging and I lack the motivation or just do not have ideas for the next post. However, then I take a look at some of the challenges and ideas flood in. It then comes down to deciding which ones to contribute to.

One – start with one challenge to get going 

If you are new to blogging and you are not sure where to start, I would say explore different challenges and start with one challenge.  

Read about what the host expects or prefers. For example, some challenge hosts really want participants to make a separate post to join in with their challenge. Other hosts do not seem to mind if someone combines one post to join in with multiple challenges.  

Also, make sure to join the challenge somewhat close to the day it starts. For example, if it is a weekly challenge, sometimes the entries fizzle out on days 5 or 6 as folks are getting ready for the next week.  However, some challenges welcome people to join in late, and it can be fun to see some entries trickle in. 

Two – Don’t feel like you are obligated to stay doing a challenge. 

If you are done, then walk away. I know it can feel like a break up and we do not want to hurt feelings, but if you stay blogging with an obligatory mindset – you will lose freshness. Blogging can have ups and downs and can have times of feeling like a drain, and so you must guard your essence. You do not want to get to the point of being “done” to where you exit and leave for good. 

Three – Watch the pull of blog challenges. 

The social connecting can be such a thrill here in the blog community. However, it can also pull you into what feels like a black hole. It can feel like a vortex has pulled you in and you need to get out. So draw boundaries. Find times to indulge, but do make sure you monitor your involvement. If I ever feel like I am getting sucked in, I might fast for a week or even thirty days. I actually suggest people do this before they feel the drain starting to occur. Regular breaks allow our threshold to reset and can lead to more enjoyment in the long run. This applies to many areas, not just blogging. 

Four – Make time to visit other bloggers that join in the challenge(s) you join in with. 

Balance task vs. relationships. Make time to join in and create a post (the task) but then make time visit other bloggers (relationship) that join in the challenge(s) you join in with. Visiting other bloggers is an important part of the blog experience. Don’t force yourself to visit, but it might take effort to make some rounds. And do not feel like you have to visit every single post that someone puts out there. It could be too much of “you” and the spaced out visits could be win-win for all. 

Also, it is nice to get and give “likes” – but some bloggers do not pay ever attention to the likes (or the likes don’t show up after you click it) and so leaving a comment always has more weight. Try to leave something specific (rather than general like “nice post” or “cool”) but do not feel like you have to write a book either. Sometimes less can be more, especially if you put a little bit of “you” into it.

Do not be afraid to say something as simple as “I enjoyed your post” because you might not be able to move into commentary mode so quickly. Some people have a natural (or developed) skill for reading a post and then having some thoughtful commentary. Others are still in view mode and do not always have thoughts come so naturally. And in my experience, any blogger that starts to gripe about “shallow comments” or “too general” of a comment might not realize the different modes people are in.

Five – If you reach a point to where you want to host a challenge, go for it. 

Hosting a challenge might be your next step. If you reach a point to where you want to host a challenge, go for it. It could be something that becomes part of your small “great works” as you connect and give a little back to the community. Or, it could be a short-term adventure that does not last long – but has allowed you to learn, grow, and meet other bloggers.

Hosting challenges can be a different experience for each host. The amount of work it requires will vary depending on the type of challenge it is but it usually requires a lot of effort. I stopped running a challenge because it added more time to my blogging hours and it was not something I enjoyed. Also, the inconsistencies were annoying. For example, one week there would be a lot of participants and a vibrancy but then the next week it felt lackluster with the sound of crickets.

So rather than hosting challenges, I contribute to the ones that align with my aims and interests. For example, a personal goal of mine is to write more flash fiction.  For a while, I was able to join in with three weekly flash fiction challenges and then narrowed it down to one. The challenge helps me hone a skill that I would not otherwise tap into.

Also, rather than hosting, I sometimes start my own themes for a series. For example, I do Wednesday Street Shots, What to Wear Wednesday, and Monday Morning Blooms. 

A passive host signals to me that they do not care about engagement – or they do not value each and every entry – and if they do not care – well then why should I?  Yvette Prior

Occasionally, I might be tempted to set up those series as challenge invites, but I refrain. Hosting requires effort and consistency. I only have so much time to blog (like most folks) and I also do not want to be locked into any forced schedule. I like some regularity that changes with the seasons, but to me, hosting a challenge feels like unenjoyable work – and so this is why I try to always thank the folks that do host  – their labor of love provides a lot for the blogging community. 

Most blog hosts will visit each blogger that joins their challenge. I think this is an important part of hosting. They set the challenge parameters and invite others to join. Then, they visit the bloggers that join in. It feels like a common courtesy and the visitation can lead to some fun connecting. 

However, some blog hosts do not visit the participants that join their challenge. I stopped contributing to a few challenges because the challenge host did not visit and did not seem to care who joined in. A passive host signals to me that they do not care about engagement – or they do not value each and every entry – and if they do not care – well then why should I?  

However, most challenge hosts do visit the participants, even if they keep the comments brief. Some challenge hosts visit and bring sunshine with them, and that can be such a boost. 

There are some challenges I stopped joining in with just because the topic no longer interested me or the challenge was not something I wanted to do anymore. The host might have been great and the other folks were awesome in that circle, but it was no longer a part of my desired blogging mode. I used to feel bad for leaving certain blog challenges.

However, I allowed myself embrace the freedom. I needed to discover new blogging modes and my interests had changed so it was not personal. Further, it can be quite draining to oblige or to stay with something because you feel like you have to.  If we force ourselves to participate it will backfire because the lack of genuineness will eventually show. We might stay present but withdraw with attitude and energy. Then everyone loses out.  So even though I feel bad for not joining in some challenges after being a regular, I hope that the integrity of the choice will outweigh any hurt feelings.

Also, I have found that we can join in with challenges occasionally. For example, there is a weekly challenge that I used to do for a couple of years. I no longer want that challenge in my blog schedule, but this year I was able to join in once. I might try and join again later this fall. There is another challenge that is monthly and I just joined in this month. I am not sure if this is optimal, to only join in once in a while, and so I will monitor how it goes because I do not want to occasionally join in if that does not align with what the host prefers.  

Sometimes I join in with challenges because I like the idea or theme. For example, with “Pull Up a Seat” challenge, it seemed like such a fresh idea and so I joined in. Later on I bonded with the hostess, who is this awesome lady from the West Coast. 

Other times I might start joining in with a challenge because I like the host. For example, Bush Boy’s monthly photo challenge was a good idea, but I joined in with it to connect with him – and his followers – more than really wanting to join another photo challenge.   I also have some challenges on my “to join in with” list – just because I like the host.  For example, VJ runs a weekly writing challenge that I have been meaning to join in with. 

Sometimes the host matters more than the challenge and I have left challenges because the host was grumpy.  Even though I liked the theme of their challenge – I just didn’t feel that as a “hobby blogger” I should have to endure certain mood swings. Of course the blog experience will always have social elements come up, because we are humans and not robots – but there is no reason to suffer through grumpy hosts. 

I have also stopped joining in with challenges because of some of the participants. For example, a weekly challenge that I did for years had a domineering participant who left comments that drained me. Subtle things, and nothing egregious, but it went on for months until I finally just decided that the social circle there was not for me. I grieved for a while – for the small loss – because I did make some nice connections, but I also felt freed up and it made room for something else. 

Norm’s Doors

Thank you so much for reading this post. I hope that my experience with blog challenges will give you some ideas and thoughts. You might be wanting to start a challenge, might be looking to join in with some, or you might be at a point where you need to pull back. We are all in different spots and the biggest tip is to make sure that you approach blog challenges in ways that keep you fresh. If you lose your essence, do too much, or fail to draw needed boundaries, you could end up drained and gone. Don’t let that happen. The hobby blogging community needs you for what only you can bring. ☺ 

Thanks for sharing this great post with us, Yvette. I learned a lot and enjoyed the introduction to some new photo challenges.

Thank you, my and Yvette’s friends for joining us today on Always Write. I hope this post is another step in helping you to always be a happy hobby blogger.

Reminder

I want to remind everyone that those interested in Flash Fiction are invited to join me when I host the Carrot Ranch Flash Fiction Rodeo Contest on October 20th-26th.

Carrot Ranch

Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, author, blogger and retired teacher/consultant - Promoting Hobby Blogging

50 thoughts on “Prior Commentary on Blog Challenges”

  1. Hi, Yvette and Marsha – These are excellent thoughts on Blogging Challenges. I especially enjoyed your closing paragraph. The Blogging Community only needs what we can comfortably bring. We are all in different places in blogging, and in life. The focus should remain on keeping it fun, and enjoying the community!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes!! That takes the pressure off, doesn’t it? I remember when I first started blogging, I could hardly sleep. I was driven to write more posts, visit more blogs, write more comments. I was exhausted and I was looking for an answer. Yvette has it.

      Like

    2. Hi @retirement reflections – the point about enjoying it is so crucial eh?
      and @Marsha – reading your note about the “more” likely connects with all of us- we sure have been there at different seasons 😉
      And maybe blog maturity is like other areas of maturity – we can find what we need for different seasons 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Marsha, I can relate to much of what Yvette says about blog challenges. I have been known to join in quite a few over the years and love the sense of community and engagement that can flow. It also stretches my brain to think outside the square and I do love a challenge. If I’m not in the mood, there’s no pressure to join so I just go with the flow. Great to read Yvette’s thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Debbie – it sounds like you have the no-pressure approach to blogging and sounds like that comes natural for you! Whew and maybe some of us can think of this when (if) we feel like we need to Fimd a balance – thanks for reading (and Marsha thanks again for hosting )

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well I know that the last couple emails crossed near the end — and I love the way you made it work out -also – throughout this process – you were flexible and attentive to what I wanted and that was awesome to work with!

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Wel you really checked in with me and I felt heard – and As noted before – I was a bit of a snail with some turnaround time – it we made it happen in September and before the carrot ranch rodeo – 😉

            Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Marsha, Thank you for featuring Yvette here.

    Hi Yvette, I have learned a great deal from this post. I think of you as a seasoned blogger and I appreciate the philosophy behind staying fresh, keeping the fun factor and guarding your essence. I find your points very empowering. I am at the two year blogging mark and you validate many of my feelings. Such as, I continue to follow a blogger “just because I like the host” and the concept of “needed boundaries.” Your article is specifically about blogging yet it segues into how we live our personal lives. A great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much Erica/ Erika! That comment was refreshing to read! And Both you and Marsha have really edifies me with your feedback! I am quite honored ladies – so thanks!!
      Also – Erika – my favorite thing about the way you blog is that your posts have a well crafted feel with the personal touch. For example – your book reviews are special because you offer critique and info but then have one of kind photos of the book (often in settings) and you also invite us into your world as a mother – grandmother and person who loves nature!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you for your very kind comment, Yvette. This says a great deal about you and how generous and supportive you are to blogging friends. I early on found mentors in the blogging community and you are definitely one of them!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi restless jo!
      I was actually thinking of your Monday walk challenges with the one I mentioned joining in recently after not doing them for a while!
      And side note Jo- you get a gold star for being a hostess with the mostess-
      I know one time you noted that you even follow up with “likes” and not sure if you still do that- but your care and value for your challenge participants is admirable! However – you also seem to truly value your blog connections and your presence in the blog community brings more than awesome photography and a walking challenge – it brings you and your genuineness – and that is fresh

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Well I guess the years can add up.
          And as a host of such a popular and long-standing challenge – I am sure it has taken a few different approaches to staying balanced and adjusting for different needs – 😉

          Liked by 2 people

      1. Oops! When I have some spare time, I was going to say 🤣. I have stepped back from the walks for a while because I did find myself losing enthusiasm. And I also recognised myself as being grumpy on occasion. 😂 Many thanks to you, Yvette 💕💕

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Hi again – it sounds like you are staying in tune – and I did not mention it here – but when I came back from a blog break “too soon” I had some grumpy days – and so I think my wanting to share on Marsha’s blog on this theme came from this hands on learning – anyhow – hope your stepping back leads to good things – like maybe even putting together an Algarve travel booklet or something?? Hmm

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I stepped back for a long time, too. It’s good to be back, but we all need occasional breaks. That’s the nice thing about being seasoned. Most of our friends are still there when we come back, and we’ve usually got their email if we need to talk.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. @Marsha –
            Your comement about how most blog “friends are there when we come back” reminded me of something Amy Maranto once said years ago – something about how the “Internet will always be there and we pick up where we left off”-
            And side note – Amy – here – https://marantophotographyvol2.wordpress.com/

            has a weekly photo update that she uses to keep her blog going – Lisa from the northwest blog has been doing it for years / and wanted to mention it because some other bloggers might find an idea there!

            Oh and I did notice your long breaks and I assumed you were either traveling the world or doing misc. things in the early part of the retirement years 😉

            Liked by 1 person

          3. I worked on a couple of books, one published and one still not, and for a while I was trying to blog like the pros and improve my blogging style (and give unwanted advice to bloggers. Once I quit that blog and shut it down, freedom set in.

            Like

      2. I agree with all Yvette said, Jo. I met you through Carol years ago, and even though I don’t participate often, I feel like I know you, and your walks are beautiful. Thank you again for reading and commenting.

        Liked by 1 person

Your babbling is music to my ears. Please leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.